Man Made of Pain

He was a tall, broad man with shoulders that could hold the world. Maybe sometimes they did, because he never seemed to stand up straight and even though he faked a smile, it was as transparent as the tears that framed his eyes.

He told me stories of a little boy and his father before lifting his sleeves to point out perfect circles of scar tissue with cigarette stained fingers. And I would wonder about the similarities of father and son when he would order his whiskey neat, start a bar fight then drive home.

He took a handful of pills every morning to try and balance his mind. They made it difficult to sleep, he said, but they didn’t take away the pain or the feeling that he had already died. There were permanent dark circles under his eyes in the fluorescent light during our late night talks about life and death and pain.

For every time we stood on the top of the parkade to watch the sunset while smoke came out of our mouths, he would stare at his shoes as if he didn’t deserve to see the beauty of it. He sent the most beautiful poems as email attachments in the middle of the night while I slept, and when I woke to read it would always seem like he wrote his life the way he wanted it to be.

So I guess when he stopped showing up for work without a word, nobody was really surprised. It became a conclusion that was just as expected as the full stop at the end of a sentence. He was there one day and gone the next; no note or explanation. He didn’t even clear out his desk or tender his resignation. For a while I watched obituaries, expecting to see his face.

I never did see him there.